STTC sets out forward strategies

The European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition has had an active, eventful year.  It launched a new website, stepped up communications further through its newsletter and annual conference and rolled out its funding programme to back development of private and public sector sustainable procurement policies and other action plans to strengthen the European market for sustainable tropical timber.

But after a busy 12 months the organisation is not about to rest on its laurels in 2017. According to André de Boer, Secretary General of STTC Principal Partner the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF), the year ahead will not only see the organisation consolidate its success to date, but build on it significantly.

“A very positive meeting with members and other supporters confirmed both a range of exciting new strategies and plans to take forward existing programmes,” he said. “The focus will be building STTC support and alliances with other organisations to highlight sustainable tropical timber’s diversity and to provide proof of its technical and broader environmental performance. We will also develop STTC activities to encourage implementation of sustainable timber procurement policies and communicate the proven link between growing demand for the material and spreading sustainable forest management in tropical supplier countries.”

To date the STTC has largely concentrated its trade action plan support, financed by its founder-supporter IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, on five countries; Germany, Denmark, France, Italy and Spain.  Four out of their five trade federations have now got the go ahead to implement sustainable procurement policy programmes with Coalition backing (Italy did not submit one), and 20 company action plans are approved. In 2017 action plan funding will also be actively widened to  private and public sectors in the rest of Europe.

Last year the STTC additionally backed life cycle assessment (LCA) projects at Dutch timber promotion body Centrum Hout. These demonstrated sustainable tropical timber’s carbon and other environmental credentials in highly demanding applications; marine pile planking and window frames. Plans are now to work with partners to broaden LCA across a range of species and end-uses.

“LCA has become a key specification criteria for construction and manufacturing materials. Architects, in particular demand it, and government is including it in building regulations,” said Mr de Boer.

STTC will also step up efforts to increase use of lesser-known tropical timber species (LKTS).

“Encouraging use of sustainably sourced LKTS increases tropical timber availability and choice in the market place, takes the supply stress off more popular species, and makes certification more economically viable for producers by increasing timber yield of a given forest area,” said Mr de Boer.  

As detailed in the following news stories, the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) and the ETTF have also agreed to combine their respective due diligence, due care and business data support websites; and Timber Trade Portal, which is backed by the STTC and International Tropical Timber Organisation. The coming year will see the merged resource increase its number of supplier country profiles, that include sustainability certification data.

Another accompanying news story explains that the STTC is also developing a ‘European Declaration for Sustainable Tropical Timber’. Inspired by the success of similar Declarations for sustainably sourced soya and palm oil, this will pledge public and private sector signatories to procure, promote and increase the application of sustainable tropical timber.

The aim is to launch the document officially at the STTC annual conference set to be held in Berlin in June.